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Forest owners welcome Nats blue-green commitment

28 January 2008


Forest owners welcome Nats blue-green commitment

Forest owners have welcomed the National Party's commitment to refine the proposals outlined in its Blue-Green Vision document into policies for the 2008 general election.

NZFOA chief executive David Rhodes was responding to a speech by National environment spokesperson, Dr Nick Smith, to Nelson Rotary last week.

The Vision document, released in December 2006, has more than 70 proposals for tackling the environmental issues facing New Zealand. Among these is a commitment to abolish the government's 10 per cent deforestation cap, "as it has become counterproductive to both the economy and the environment".

"The cap works like a punitive tax and is designed to lock pre-Kyoto plantations into forestry in perpetuity. We welcome National's commitment to abolishing it and note that others such as the Maori Party and Act have also expressed opposition to it," Mr Rhodes says.

"Under current proposals, forest owners won't even be able to harvest a forest on land better suited to farming and replant on erosion-prone hill country elsewhere without incurring the tax. This is not going to deliver sustainable land use."

Mr Rhodes says economic and environmental policies are becoming increasingly intertwined. Society's goals of cleaner water and lower carbon and nitrogen emissions invariably come with big cost implications for land-users.

"If in order to meet its commitments to Kyoto, New Zealand needs to retain existing trees in an uneconomic location, who should pay to provide that service to the nation? The forest owner or society as a whole?

"Clearly, society as a whole, because society is the sole beneficiary."

He says the principles involved are no different to public works like roads. If the country is to get a benefit from land in private hands, the owners should be left unharmed, as provided for in the Public Works Act."

"Whether it's carbon in forests, which we do want, or nitrogen in Taupo, which we don't want, there are costs involved.

"The fair allocation of these costs is a complex issue where greater consensus between political parties is needed.

"National's Blue-Green Vision is a helpful contribution to dealing with forestry and other land-use policies in a positive way."


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